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Tournament Scrabble play in Canada and the United States is administered by NASPA and its Tournament Committee. If you have questions about tournaments that are not answered here, please email the committee.

What is a tournament?

At a tournament, NASPA members get together to play several rounds of Scrabble according to tournament rules under the supervision of a tournament director. The player who wins the most games usually wins a prize, and the results of the event are submitted to NASPA to update everyone’s rating. There are several tournaments each week somewhere in the United States and Canada, and most clubs hold at least one big tournament each year.

On this website, a tournament as described above is different from a casual tournament.

Playing in tournaments

Tournaments are organized by NASPA-sanctioned Directors and listed on our calendar. In order to play in a tournament, you must:

  1. be a NASPA member in good standing (US$15 for first-time players)
  2. be familiar with the tournament rules
  3. contact the director listed in the calendar to register for the event

If it is your first time playing in a tournament, you should make sure your tournament director knows this. Ask the director how you should prepare for your tournament; and do not hesitate to ask the director for help, if at any time during your tournament you aren’t sure what to do.

A director may refuse entry to a player for "misconduct by a player that is not specifically defined in other sections of this code, but is clearly abusive, negative, or detrimental to the success of the club, tournament, NASPA, or organized Scrabble in general." (See Classification 1.g. of the Code of Conduct). If a player is refused entry, the player may appeal that decision by the director, as detailed in the Code of Conduct.

If you have special needs, our tournament directors will do their best to accommodate you, if they receive enough notice. In particular, almost all tournament venues are accessible to the physically handicapped, and players are entitled to use assistive equipment or sit at the most convenient table to accommodate a handicap.

Score sheets and other player forms are available for download from the Player Resources page.

Finding tournament results

If your tournament director is using correctly configured modern tournament software, you will probably know your new tournament rating before you leave at the end of your event. Your tournament director will then submit the results to the NASPA website, where the ratings and tournament results will be updated as soon as the rating officer reviews the results. (This can take anywhere from a few minutes to several hours.) Tournament statistics are copied regularly from our website to our partner site cross-tables.com on an hourly basis, and posted to our Twitter feed within minutes of being created.

Scheduling a tournament

Complete the Tournament Listing Request form to request sanctioning of your tournament.

In order to have a tournament sanctioned (added to the calendar of upcoming scheduled events), you must:

  1. be a NASPA member in good standing (your membership must be current)
  2. be certified as a tournament director or tournament coordinator
  3. make sure that your tournament complies with the lead time, time and distance from other tournaments, and other guidelines listed below.
  4. submit the Tournament Listing Request to provide information about your tournament to the Tournament Committee. If your tournament will use the Collins (SOWPODS) lexicon, see the page on directing SOWPODS tournaments for the additional information required. Apprentice directors are required to copy their mentoring directors on sanctioning requests, to ensure that there will be adequate coverage at the tournament.
  5. ensure that a certified tournament director will be present throughout your event.

Kinds of tournaments

We currently recognize four different kinds of rated tournaments:

  • An open rated tournament (ORT) is open to anyone and is fully rated if there are at least 4 games / rounds.
    • A tournament will be 1/3-rated if there are only 3 games / rounds.
  • A capped open rated tournament (COT) is open to anyone but has an attendance limit of no more than 10, and is 1/3-rated.
  • A team challenge is restricted to members of specific clubs or residents of specific regions, and is fully rated.
  • A championship is restricted to members of a specific club or residents of a specific region, and is fully rated.

Any of these types of tournaments may also be played using the Collins (SOWPODS) lexicon (see directing SOWPODS tournaments).

The following table (excerpted from the Director’s Manual and updated) describes the different kinds of tournaments in more detail.

(Capped) Open rated tournament (COT or ORT) Team challenges or championships (TCC)
Advance notice/ sanctioning Multiday tournaments: 4 weeks with no exceptions

One-day tournaments: 10 days with no exceptions

Tournament calendar listing All rated events must be listed on NASPA calendar
Rating method Fully rated except for:
  • Tournaments with a cap on attendees of 10 players or less
  • Tournaments with only 3 games

Those exceptions will be 1/3-rated, unless the tournament otherwise qualifies to be fully rated as a Team Challenge/Championship event.

Geographic restrictions Multiday tournaments: no other multiday event occurring within two weekends and 200 miles of your proposed tournament; no other one-day event on the same day as one of your tournament days.
One-day tournaments: no other one-day tournament within 100 miles on the same day as your event (reduced to 50 miles if the other tournament has a cap on attendees of 30 players or less); no other multi-day within 200 miles. Consecutive one-day tournaments with no cap on attendees will be treated as multi-day tournaments for the purpose of this policy.
  • If the organizers of conflicting tournaments mutually agree, NASPA will sanction both.
  • The Executive Committee has determined that the Can-Am Scrabble Challenge does not conflict with other events, due to its structure. Therefore, Can-Am can be scheduled at the convenience of the organizers, without regard to proximity to other events.
  • Two events that do not share a rating system (e.g., an all-NWL event and an all-CSW event) are deemed not to conflict with each other.
How many games? At least 3 games. A 3-game tournament will be 1/3-rated. To be fully rated, a tournament must have 4 or more games.
How many players? At least 4 players in each division - at least 2 rated players in each division
Membership requirements All players must be current NASPA members
Player restrictions None permitted Entry restricted by club/region (for team challenge) or club/region/rating (for championship).
Participation fee $.50 per player per game
Examples Scrabble Players Championship, most tournaments Portland-Seattle Interclub Challenge, Texas State Championship, Can-Am

In the above, the phrases “50 miles”, “100 miles” and “200 miles” in tournament distance calculations shall mean 50 miles, 100 miles and 200 miles, respectively, driving distance from venue address to venue address, as measured by Google Maps using the default driving directions. The Tournament Committee may consider appeals for exception in the event that Google Maps is shown to be in error, and may select an alternative mileage calculation tool should Google Maps be deemed unreliable.

"Cap on attendees" refers to tournaments that limit the number of players who may enter (e.g., "Entry is restricted to the first 16 players who register"). The actual number of players who enter the tournament is not considered, only restrictions on the number of players who may play, due to the size of the venue or other reasons.

Until 2024-01-01, there was another tournament category: Local Club Tournament (LCT). LCTs were 1/3-rated and required shorter advance notice. Once all 1-day tournaments required only 10 days advance notice, there were no significant distinctions between LCTs and other tournaments.

Note: In general, no exceptions will be made to advance notice guidelines. However, in extraordinary cases, the Executive Committee has the right to grant sanction to a tournament that does not meet the guidelines.

Modifying a sanctioned tournament

Directors may need to update or correct the listing for an already sanctioned tournament. Directors do not need to submit another Tournament Listing Request but should:

  • Review the form to make sure you are providing all required information. For example:
    • Include the challenge penalty that will be in effect if adding a Collins division
    • Make sure that the contact info and handicap accessibility are correct if changing the venue
  • Send the request to the Tournament Committee
  • Specify all dates for which changes are required
  • List the changes you want clearly - for example, use a bulleted list
  • Review the changes made to make sure that the changes are complete
  • Monitor our partner site, cross-tables, to make sure that the changes propagate there

Cancelling a sanctioned tournament or division

Directors may need to cancel an already sanctioned tournament or division in a particular lexicon. Directors should always:

If the cancellation occurs in the same month as the planned event, the director should also:

  • Exercise caution in submitting results for future tournaments if the database entry for the cancelled tournament still appears in the list of pending tournaments - be sure to select the current tournament

If a director applied to have a Collins event to be WESPA-rated, the director must notify the Tournament Committee if the event does not happen. NASPA needs to notify the WESPA Ratings Officer of the cancellation.

Advance Scheduling/Right of First Refusal

With respect to tournaments scheduled on or after July 1, 2018:

  1. Tournaments currently on the calendar will have first right of refusal to their traditional date (same weekend of the month, same holiday weekend, etc.). This only applies to tournaments held in the same geographic location as the previous tournament (i.e., moving to a new venue a few miles away is acceptable, but moving to an entirely new city is a new event that does not qualify for the right of first refusal).
  2. If more than one tournament within a conflicting radius has rights to the same date, and both seek sanctioning more than 12 months in advance of the tournament (or a director timely responds to a 30-day notice as detailed in Item 4 below), the competing directors may each apply to the NASPA Tournament Committee (TC), which will determine which tournament may be held on the conflicting date (brief, but sufficiently detailed, applications are preferred). The TC will consider all factors it deems relevant, including without limitation:
    1. The history of the respective tournaments (how many years running, average attendance, etc.).
    2. Other dates traditionally available to the respective directors.
    3. How far in advance the respective requests are received (subject to Item 3 below).
  3. Directors who have previously held tournaments may request tournament dates up to 3 years into the future, but such tournaments are subject to being delisted if a director with rights to the same date also requests a tournament and prevails in the TC application process. For that reason, directors are encouraged to communicate with other directors in their region with competing rights to a date, in order to coordinate scheduling.
  4. If a director wishes to secure a date, and other directors also have first right of refusal to that date, the director may elect to identify the other directors to the TC when requesting sanctioning. The TC will contact those directors specifically identified in the request and give them a 30-day period in which to submit a competing request. If the other directors decline to request the date or fail to respond within the 30-day period, their first right of refusal to the date will lapse.
  5. Multiday tournaments not previously held can be scheduled no more than 12 months in advance.
  6. One-day tournaments not previously held can be scheduled no more than 10 months in advance.
  7. Tournaments that take more than a 2-year hiatus will be considered tournaments not previously scheduled for the purposes of this policy.
  8. Any rights of first refusal must be exercised more than 12 months prior to the first date of the tournament, after which time all tournament sanctioning shall be on a first come-first served basis.
  9. Certain tournaments will be accorded special status, as determined from time to time by the NASPA Executive Committee, and may be scheduled without reference to this policy (currently including: SPC; CNSC; Can-Am; WSC Qualifier).
  10. The TC may remove a director’s first right of refusal if, in the judgment of the committee, such removal is in the best interests of tournament Scrabble, considering all relevant factors.
  11. The TC may grant other exceptions to this policy in exceptional circumstances.

Scrabble Players Championship Satellite Events

To celebrate and promote multi-day tournaments, the Championship Committee has established the Scrabble Players Championship (SPC) Satellite Event program.

An SPC Satellite Event is a multi-day event that consists of 14 rounds or more and has at least 50 players. A complimentary registration to the next Scrabble Players Championship will be provided for every 50 players in the event.

Click here for more information about the program.

Game Clock Requirements

Generally, all rated games must be played to a 25-minute per side clock length. However, pursuant to an Advisory Board ruling, effective as of August 12, 2014, Directors may offer sanctioned tournaments that include early bird and/or late bird events with shorter clocks, subject to the following:

  • Clock length of the shorter clock games must be no less than 20 minutes per side.
  • Clock length may not be longer than 25 minutes per side (subject only to accommodations granted for additional clock time).
  • The shorter clock games must be as part of an early bird or late bird to a main event with regular, 25-minute per side games.
  • The number of 25-minute per side rounds at the main event tournament must exceed the number of shorter clock rounds (at all early birds, late birds, night birds, etc.) by at least one.

Youth Scrabble Tournaments

The NASPA Youth Scrabble Program is open to all U.S. and Canadian residents who are 18 years of age or younger as of the beginning of the calendar year and have not yet graduated from high school. This program features a separate rating and achievement points ranking system specifically for these youths, with annual recognition of the most enthusiastic and skilled players.

Competition may take place solo or in two-player teams, using the NSWL, NWL, or CSW lexicons.

Directors can list upcoming Youth Scrabble tournaments via the Tournament Listing Request form.

Unrated Events and Newcomer Divisions

Many directors wish to have unrated Scrabble tournaments and/or newcomer divisions that run concurrently with the main event. The following information is provided to help directors identify whether or not such an event is permitted under NASPA guidelines.

The Tournament Committee will not sanction events that include mirror images of the proposed NASPA-sanctioned event, save only for NASPA sanction. In general, unrated or newcomer events should be of significantly shorter duration than the main event with which they run concurrently. These events are accorded special consideration because they are designed to build interest in competitive play for newcomers, and grow our ranks. After-hours unrated events, tag-team events, etc. are generally fine.

Because of the large number of sanctioned directors, and the creativity with which they approach crafting events to meet the wishes of their constituencies, it is difficult to define every type of event and declare each as either prohibited or allowed. For that reason, directors who plan to offer unrated events are encouraged to contact the Tournament Committee with any questions about the suitability of a particular event.

Directors should always include details about all Scrabble events (whether rated or unrated) to be run in conjunction with any event, when seeking sanction for the event.


If your event is being held in support of a charitable cause, please review our separate page about fundraising tournaments.

Web coverage

Major events, such as NASPA championships, are webcast on this website, and web coverage is archived in perpetuity.

Web coverage typically consists of standings updates continuously throughout an event, commentary about the event’s highlights, photos and interactive games where you can follow along at the top board in real time.

Sponsorship policy

Tournament sponsorship is permitted with the prior approval of the Tournament Committee.